Over the last few years, more and more organisations have embraced the concept of remote work, and distributed organisations are more common now than ever before. There are a host of benefits to working from home; and now, in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has never been more appealing.
But if you seldom work from home before, working from home full-time can be a huge adjustment. You might find yourself lonely, bored, feeling out of the loop, or that you can’t get as much work done.
When interviewed, most Millennials said they wanted to work from home once or twice a week, but almost all said that they still want to work in an office a few days a week.
If you find yourself working from home over the next few weeks, here are a few tips that freelancers use to ensure that they remain productive without burning out.
1) Keep the Same Routine
It is imperative that you try to keep to your usual routines. That means that you should still wake up at the same time, and go to bed at the same time.
Don’t stay up later playing games or working, and don’t use this as an excuse to sleep in every day.
2) Get Dressed for Work
If you want to be as productive as possible and feel good about yourself, you need to get ready for work just like you would any other day.
That means brush your teeth, wash your face, shower (if you’re a morning shower person) and get dressed for work. Psychological studies have shown that people who get dressed for work, then work from home are happier and more productive than people who get out of bed and start working in their PJs.
Even if you are not in contact with customers, getting dressed for work will drastically improve your mood, and get you into the right mindset for the day ahead.
3) Get Active
Since you won’t be driving into the office, there is the temptation to relax more in the morning, sleep late, take longer for breakfast, or a host of other activities that take the same time as your commute.
The problem is that by working from home, you are going to be more sedentary. The bathroom will be closer, you won’t walk from your front door to your car, or from your car to your desk, and you won’t be taking short walks around the office. Even if you don’t lead an active lifestyle, working from home can kill your activity levels.
So, instead of filling the time that your commute would take with sedentary activities, go for a walk in the morning before getting to work. By staying active, you will strengthen your immune system, improve your mood and focus, and will get you some much-needed vitamin D.
And when you’re done working for the day, take another walk around the block to simulate a commute.
4) Take Regular Breaks
Taking regular breaks is as important as staying active. Sitting alone in one room all day will cause you to feel isolated. A good rule of thumb is to work for 45 min, and take a 5 min break.
When you take a break, go outside, play with your dogs or kids. And remember to take your full break. Don’t take a shorter lunch because you have nothing better to do, and don’t skip lunch either.
Missing a break once in a while might be unavoidable, but for you to ensure that you can sustain a long-term effort, you need to ensure that you are not burning out. The only way to ensure that you maintain your mental health is to rest when you are meant to rest.
4) Radio Good — TV Bad
Some people find that sitting at home alone is too quiet, and they feel isolated and lonely. When we feel like this, it is natural to want some background noise to make your space feel fuller.
If you find that you don’t like the silence of being home alone, turn the radio on (either in the room that you’re working in or in another room of your house). But be warned, don’t turn on your TV, as this can go from background noise to a full-blown distraction.
5) Set Ground Rules with People in Your House
Working from home can cause some trouble if there are other people in the house. If you want to be efficient when working from home, you should set ground rules.
Some examples include:
- No general house-hold chores between 8 and 6
- Clean up after yourself. Wash your coffee mugs when you’re done with them, wipe down the counters, and keep your workspace tidy
- Set quiet times where no-one in the house is to bother you
In essence, try to treat your space the same way you would if you were at the office.
6) Separate Your Workspace from Your Recreation Space
Many freelancers will tell you that it can be disheartening working all day, then trying to relax in the same spot. You can see your laptop, and you start to think about all the unfinished work. To clear your head and unwind, it would do you a world of good to separate your space.
Even if you don’t have a spare room that you can work in, carve out a corner of your house for work. Set it up with stationery, your monitors, or whatever you need to ensure it feels different. And if you are going to be working in a communal space, get some headphones to reduce noise, and try to face a wall so that you can have fewer distractions.
7) Communicate EVERYTHING
When you’re in the office, and you’re looking for someone, you can wander to their desk to look for them. If they’re not there, the person next to them might be able to tell you that they’re on lunch, or at a meeting, or whatever.
When we’re all at home, it’s impossible to know where everyone is all the time. It is up to you to overcommunicate where you are. You don’t need to give people your second by second movements, but if you’re going to be away from your desk for more than 10 minutes, drop your team an AFK (away from keyboard) message.
Similarly, let people know when you log on in the morning, and again when you log off at night. Always ensure that your team knows where you are so that they never have to look for you.
For some people working from home is a dream come true; for others, this period is going to be a challenge. There are going to be unique challenges that everyone needs to face, but by preparing yourself, you can limit the impact that working from home will have on you.